photo link to home page [part of Simon Grant's research]

Modelling and simulating cognition, and its relevance to complex tasks where humans are in control

Slides for the Grantholders days presentation

Modelling and simulating cognition, and its relevance to complex tasks where humans are in control

Both I, for the last year and a quarter, and the work, for the last few years, have been in ISEI, Industry Environment Unit, Socio-Technical Systems Safety Sector (or their predecessors).

Several other grantholders have done probably the majority of the work over those years.


Accidents happen.

Increasingly, the technology operates as it was designed to operate, and either the human operation or design is mistaken.


[Gary Larson cartoons used as illustrations here]

Logical connections

The aim to reduce accidents.

One option is to reduce human mistakes.

This requires understanding of human mistakes.

Assume that mistakes arise from the same mechanisms as useful behaviour.

Then, the aim becomes to model and simulate human cognition and behaviour in a way that will better enable

This is difficult!

What has been done?

The main centre of effort has been COSIMO, though there have also been related projects.

COSIMO is a cognitive simulation model based on the psychological work of James Reason.

It has involved several years of grantholder work, together with some stagiares, and agents.

It has been the object of several visits and visiting scientists, including eminent ones in the field of cognitive systems engineering.

COSIMO is interesting, but of course far from perfect.

What is being done?

The main topics with active effort are three:

What could be done?


There are a number of useful activities that can be traced out on this diagram.

  1. Observe; record; simulate and test loop. We can imagine this being done with some cognitive simulations, e.g. Amalberti.
  2. Theorise, architecture, model build loop. This is relatively easy.
  3. Theory-driven model and simulation building. Maybe Soar and ACT-R are a little like this.

What else could be done?

Modelling and simulation of cognition could contribute to a wide range of current activities: All of these may be expected to continue to be present in the new ISIS, and the last ones probably in a large proportion of the JRC.

The future for modelling of cognition

Practical political future in the JRC.

ISIS seems an excellent place for: [should it be 'hazards' or should it be analysis of systems?]

The intellectual future in a wider context: